10-Year-Old Model with Skin Condition Challenges Beauty Standards: 'You Don't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful'

April Star, 10, is breaking into the modeling world with a message: embrace your beauty

Photo: Courtesy April Star

One little girl is redefining beauty.

Ten-year-old April Star has lived with vitiligo for half her life, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dream of being a model.

“The message I’m trying to give everyone is that you don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,” Star tells PEOPLE.

Star was diagnosed with vitiligo – a disorder that causes the loss of skin color in blotches – when she was just 5 years old.

Star was picked on and ridiculed because of her skin, her mother tells PEOPLE. But with the love and support of her family, she learned to embrace her beauty.

Now, she’s pursuing a modeling career, and her empowering Instagram account promoting unique beauty boasts more than 60,000 followers – “I was just like ‘whoa! 500 followers the first night!’ ” Star says.

“I was around 8 or 9, around fourth grade, when I started my Instagram and then found out that so many other people out there weren’t negative people,” she says. “I went to the positive instead of going to the negative.”

Star recently wrapped a photo shoot for Essence magazine, posed for online retailer Love My Alannah and is set to appear in Philadelphia’s Kids Fashion Week.

Star’s inspiring story has garnered national attention, even scoring her a meeting with one of her heroines, model Winnie Harlow.

“It was amazing seeing her for the first time in person!” Star says. “My jaw dropped! I was amazed. I was just staring at her like, ‘Is she really there?’ ”

The two met in September on an episode of The Real, Harlow, 21, commended Star on her strength, saying, “I see the little girl that I wish I could have been, I wish I had all that confidence.”

Despite her growing number of supporters, Star says she still encounters the occasional “mean” person.

“They want to find a way to make people feel bad about themselves, but what they don t realize is that’s not what’s going to happen with me anymore.”

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